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NEW REPORT: Meatpacking Wrongful Death Lawsuit Highlights Shocking Safety Failures Amid COVID-19 Surge

November 19, 2020 Updated: November 23, 2020

Meat Packing Plant Workers

America’s Largest Meatpacking Union Continues Call for Iowa Gov. Reynolds, Federal Leaders to Act Following Report of Willful Endangerment of Thousands of Essential Workers.

Nationwide: 128 Meatpacking Worker Deaths, 19,800 Meatpacking Workers Infected or Exposed According to New Union Data.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents over 250,000 workers in meatpacking and food processing plants, condemned the COVID-19 safety failures alleged in a wrongful death lawsuit tied to at least five meatpacking worker deaths and more than 1,000 meatpacking worker infections at a Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa. The infections impacted over a third of the plant’s workforce, which is represented by UFCW. The lawsuit alleges that employees were ordered to report to work, even if sick, while supervisors wagered money on the number of workers who would be infected by the virus.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s meatpacking workers are dying on the frontlines of this pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way to ensure our families can put food on the table this Thanksgiving. This shocking report of supervisors allegedly taking bets on how many workers would get infected, pressuring sick workers to stay on the job, and failing to enforce basic safety standards, should outrage every American.

“These stunning safety failures make clear that the Trump Administration and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds care more about industry profits than protecting America’s frontline workers. Protecting our country’s meatpacking workers is essential to keeping our food supply secure. We are continuing to call on elected leaders to implement an enforceable national safety standard, increased access to PPE and COVID-19 testing, and rigorous proactive inspections. 

“Without immediate action, deadly outbreaks like this will quickly spread across the Midwest and cause COVID-19 cases to spike even higher. Our country’s meatpacking workers, and the millions of American they serve, deserve and expect better from those sworn to protect us.”


UFCW is America’s largest meatpacking union and has been a leading national voice in the push to protect these workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 in plants across the country.

New Numbers: UFCW confirmed today that meatpacking workers continue to be at risk as COVID-19 cases surge. Among the union’s members across the country, there have already been at least 128 meatpacking worker deaths and over 19,800 meatpacking workers infected or exposed.

Meatpacking workers at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa facility, the largest pork plant in the United States, are members of UFCW Local 431.


UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.ufcw.org.

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